Piedmont Profile

By Nicole Galante            

The Piedmont leg of Highway 64 is much more than a collection of small country towns. It is historical, diverse–it encapsulates the spirit of North Carolina. 

We began our journey in Lexington, North Carolina: home of the nation’s famous barbeque festival. Like one would expect from a small country town, Lexington’s downtown strip has ol’ southern character. Its main street is lined with boutiques, family owned restaurants, and pigs. Yes, pink pig statues line the sidewalk, paying homage to the barbeque that put the small town on the national map.

From Lexington, we wound down two-lane Highway 64 to get to Asheboro. This second stop on our journey brought us to a town bigger than the one we came from. Asheboro has distinct southern charm, much like Lexington, but its scale is larger. On the downtown strip, tourists can stop into a secondhand bookstore, get coffee next door, and finish their trip off with a nice dinner at a local establishment. If you’re in Asheboro during September, make sure to visit the town’s Fall Festival for even more fun.

Passing Asheboro is where Highway 64 begins to get a bit bumpy. The roads grow windier and windier, and the trees begin to close in. If you’re a back-seater like I was, beware: car sickness comes at you quickly.

As the road got straighter and my car sickness began to subside, the Highway brought us to Franklinville, and then Ramseur. The interesting thing about these two towns is that, despite their close proximity, each is distinct. It was easy to see where Franklinville ended and where Ramseur began. Small southern towns are not, it would appear, completely universal. Each has its own charm to offer tourists driving through. As quickly as they arrive, though, they’re gone: nothing more than small points in our rearview mirror as we continued down the highway.

Siler City, Saxapahaw, and Pittsboro passed in a similar fashion. Each brought its unique charm, but passed with blinding brevity. Then, we hit Apex, a town much larger than we were expecting. Apex is not your typical country town like Franklinville or Ramseur. It is commercialized, colonized, and growing in all directions. Costcos, Citgos, and Chipotles can be found at each intersection you past. While the town may have started small, it’s grown into something much larger today.

Apex prepared us well for our final stop: Raleigh. Highway 64 no longer runs through the heart of downtown, but we drove the course where it used to stand. Downtown Raleigh is the epitome of civilization, unrecognizable from its fellow Highway 64 towns. Raleigh visitors can admire the city’s skyscrapers, go to museums, spend hundreds of dollars on dinner, and even visit the governor’s house. If excitement is your thing, then Raleigh is the place to be.

At the conclusion of our six hour trip, we were exhausted, saturated with an overwhelming amount of sights and information–but it was worth it. Before this trip, we never believed that North Carolina could be so diverse and full of life. It goes to show you that no two towns are exactly alike, and you can find hidden treasures in the unlikeliest of places.

Lindsey Deal

By Jordan Stanley

Lindsey Deal emerged from a swung-open wooden door behind the cash register in the same way Deal Orchards appeared from the road. Driving along Highway 64, the storefront for the orchard looked like a white tin warehouse, named for, perhaps, the bargain-priced produce inside. In reality, it was for the man whose family had founded and run the business for generations, carried on still today. The cashier, busy ringing up boxes of apples, apple butter, apple cider, and old-fashioned candies, called Lindsey on her flip phone to answer a few questions on the business; and there he came, extending a long tree-branch arm beckoning into his office.

Lindsey Deal is a human torch of North Carolina apple country. A tall man with grey hair and beard, Lindsey wore black baseball cap and khaki button down, both branded by the “Enjoy North Carolina Apples” insignia, the “O” of “Enjoy” a bright red fruit. His accent was certainly Southern, a characteristic of his Taylorsville community though occasionally too thick for Northern ears. He was curidsc_0520ous about how Northern eyes saw his little piece of North Carolina, prioritizing a good impression of a place he clearly took pride in. In fact, Taylorsville had been, he said, the capital of the American apple industry for decades, which his great-grandfather had a hand in.

Ready and eager to embark on a thorough history of NC apple country, Lindsey relaxed into his leather desk chair, hands laced together across his belly. His personality was strewn across the wood-paneled walls of his office. From the NRA sign on the back of his office door, to the two elk heads mounted on the wall, to the mosaic of family photos–his children, grandchildren, and ancestors who he introduces–a presumably conservative, Southern persona emerges. Yet throughout his explanations of the culture of his region, his face lit up with enthusiasm. According to Lindsey, this county used to be the moonshine capital of the country, connecting to the popularity of NASCAR in the community. He claims that NASCAR stems from moonshiners “pumping” up their cars to escape the law during Prohibition. Through his stories, Lindsey’s character slowly evolved into a richly diverse man both of traditionalism and understanding.

While the Deals originate from Kentucky, the Deal family has been harvesting apples in the county surrounding Taylorsville for well over 100 years. As Lindsey regaled the history of Deal Orchard, he rose from his chair to point to the largest frame on the wall. Inside is a black-and-white photograph capturing three rows of men, most of whom were dressed in their Sunday best–as Lindsey pointsdsc_0511 out, some of whom wore farmer’s overalls, and two of whom sported bushy white beards. The entire scene, set outside on an agricultural property, looked like it could have been torn from a Civil War history book. One of the two white-bearded men, however, was Lindsey’s great-grandfather–the original Deal’s Apples. The photo is of the first North Carolina Apple Growers’ Association, a group established to align NC apple farmers to compete and cooperate with larger wholesale produce markets. While Lindsey’s great-grandfather chose to partake in this industry, his brother (Lindsey’s great-uncle) chose to start a hardware store. Many will recognize it today as Lowe’s Home Improvement. Now onto the sixth-generation of apple Deal’s, Lindsey’s daughter left her job working numbers at Lowe’s to help run Deal’s Orchard with Lindsey’s other son.

At Deal Orchard’s Lindsey sells about 80,000 bushels of apples per year. The very units used for apple sales has evolved over the years, he says, in correspondence to changing gender norms. According to Lindsey, the apple industry began selling half bushels because a bushel box was too heavy for women–who did all the shopping–to carry. When women went back to work, however, they stopped buying apples in such large increments altogether. Lindsey said that women will full-time jobs were more likely to buy groceries for the night or a week, too busy to make pies or other more elaborate dinner measures apple-related extras in addition to employment. From this, the industry developed the “peck,” an even smaller increment of apples. While describing how feminism altered the apple industry, Lindsey remained a neutral tone, not condescending to a movement that altered his family’s practices. Rather, he was empathetic overall, if not overtly supportive–employing a level of respect that created interest amongst his NRA poster and elk heads.

As a well-established apple man, many beginning farmers come to Lindsey to ask advice to begin an orchard of their own. Lindsey laughs to himself when this happens, knowing how they underestimate the “hard parts” of farming. To establish an orchard, one must purchase land, equipment costing upwards of $6,000, and seeds to plant the trees. From there, farmers have to wait at least six years for the trees to grow for any return on their investment. He tries to pass on some wisdom, of course. For example, Lindsey has his orchards scattered across Taylorsville rather than in one area, so if there is a storm, not every orchard is impacted. One hailstorm can knock out a farm for 18 months, Lindsey said; when there’s bad weather, most people don’t even think about how this affects the farmers.

To continue constructing a behind-the-scenes look at the farming process-and to build the empathy of the farmer’s life–Lindsey provided a tour through his refrigeration units and warehouse. The massive refrigerator, full of innumerable wooden crates, smells crisp and sweet like ice-cold cider. There is actually cider in the fridge, which is outsourced for production due to strict health standards but made from Deal apples. Lindsey said, while he would like to, it is impossible to grow organic fruit in the East. There’s too much rain, which promotes fungus and rot without chemicals. Deal Orchards are, however, GAP (Good Agriculture Practices) certified.

He proceeded to walk through the entire apple-sorting process, from the conveyer belts, to turning on the washing mechanisms, to showing how each moving process worked–how apples were sorted by hand and through machine into high and low quality piles. He pointed to a 30-foot stack of boxes, with High Quality and Low Quality written in different colors. Years back, Lindsey’s customers would switch apples from high and low quality boxes in attempt to pay the lower price, so Lindsey color-coded the boxes so he wouldn’t be swindled.

Finally he approached a box of small red-green apples, the size of which make them most appealing dsc_0507to deer hunters. These were Bushy Mountain Limbertwigs– native to the region and the very apple that his great-grandfather grew to found Deal Orchards. He picked up one apple and offered a bite to anyone with “good teeth.” The consistency was firm, difficult to chew, but flavorfully balanced between tart and sweet. He took another apple and placed it on the ground, proceeding to step and place his entire weight on it. Then he picked up the apple again to reveal that there were no dents or bruises.

The day with Lindsey concluded with one last question: What was his favorite apple? He answered that if he was ever out in the orchard–after all the customers had come and gotten their pick–and he saw one last Golden Delicious, he would climb to the top of a tree to get it.

From there he returned inside to his office, encouraging a car ride through the orchards, just off to the west. Lindsey Deal tucked himself away as quickly as he had shown himself; he was a representation of the apple country in the nicest way: a man of history, tradition entwined with progression, and a Southern hospitality that opened and welcomed an eye into Taylorsville, North Carolina.

The Factory Coffee Shop

By Maggy McGloin – 2016

As any trip with anticipated adventure should begin, the exploration down Highway 64 began with clear eyes, caffeinated bodies, and an overall excitement to see what was ahead. The first stop on the highway was the town of Mocksville, just about an hour outside the Elon bubble.

The car rolled into a town seemingly barren of existence, pulling into the parking lot of the grand Town Hall, currently being cleaned with high-power hoses. It was 11 AM, late enough in the morning that shops should be open on a Saturday morning, yet every single one was closed. The streets, too, were relatively deserted–a sporadic passerby occasionally punctuating the quiet . After passing a darkened doll storefront, the town’s GOP office, a pub amongst few restaurants, the sidewalk lead to the one open business: The Factory Coffee Shop, an obviously-new addition tdsc_0430o the town. It turns out the shop had only been open for six months and was part of the new effort to revitalize downtown Mocksville.

Inside the store provided cappuccinos and a muffins, set with an ambience made by modern touches, such as acoustic music, seating areas for people who wanted to work, and an industrial-looking bar. There were also accents that kept the shop true to Mocksville’s heritage, however. By the cash register, there was a large bulletin board displaying flyers, business cards, and artwork provided by Mocksville locals–a physical manifestation of the town’s activity hub. There was also an out-of-place old-fashioned bike hung on the wall, one of the first visible decorations upon entering the store. It seemed the bike, though visually different, would provide insight as to what The Factory was all about.

As she whipped up another cappuccino,dsc_0428 the barista, Ayenna, explained a bit more about Factory, as well as what it means to be a Mocksville local. She confirmed that The Factory was the newest addition to downtown Mocksville, but the building itself was historically valuable, once a pharmacy from the early 1900’s. To pay homage to what the building once was, the owners hung up that bike–which once belonged to the pharmacist–on the wall. “He used to ride the bike up and down main street to make prescription deliveries to people’s homes,” Ayenna said. “The pharmacist knew where everyone lived and what each family’s’ prescriptions were.”

Ayenna was vibrant, compliant, and happy to answer questions about how long she’d lived in Mocksville and whether or not she enjoyed the familiarity of the town. She said that she grew up in Mocksville, surrounded by people who always said “that if you don’t get out of Mocksville by a certain point, you end up staying there your whole life.” Ayenna stated that when she was younger, she wanted nothing more than to move away from Mocksville. As she gets older, however, she admits to becoming more content with staying there. Knowing that the town could seem uneventful to outsiders, she continued to describe the different things there are to do in Mocksville: “There’s a movie theater fifteen minutes away,” she said. “And high school sports are a really big part of the community.”

The local high dsc_0431school homecoming game is one of the most exciting events in Mocksville during the fall. Ayenna pointed to the windows of the town’s favorite pub across the street, scrawled in orange paint: Beat the Mustangs!  Evidently the homecoming game was the night before and has been held in the same location for 65 years. “The whole community came out and they had all of the homecoming kings and queens from years’ past come out on the field,” said Ayenna.

When asked what her favorite Mocksville event was, Ayenna stated matter-of-factly, “the mattress car races.” For visitors who have no observed such an event, a mattress car race consists of Mocksville locals gathering on the main downtown strip to race their mattresses down the hill. “I can watch the races from the window of The Factory,” she said. Looking out the window, the image of those same mattresses plummeting down main street painted a stark contrast to the empty road, a quiet extension of Highway 64.


An Afternoon in Tarboro

By Ciara Corcoran


The aftermath of Hurricane Matthew was present in Tarboro as we tried to drive into the town. Sections of Highway 64 were blocked due to flooding from the Tar River and the National Guard stood by the blocked sections, advising drivers to take detours through town. We followed the line of cars into downtown Tarboro with the cloudy weather accentuating the gloom that hung over the town.


The cloudy weather became cloudier until rain ushered us into a coffee shop. The Tarboro Coffee House sits at the corner of East Church Street and North Main Street in downtown Tarboro. Stepping into the shop, I was surrounded by the comforting smell of freshly brewed coffee and the buzz of families stopping by for hot chocolates or scoops of ice cream. I opted for some ice cream myself and ordered a scoop of the Hershey’s Cappuccino Crunch to satisfy both my coffee craving and need for something sweet.


Lauren, Abbey, and I chose a seat near the front of the store, overlooking the rain on Main Street. I flipped through the local paper, which brought the extend of the flooding into new light. Hurricane Matthew didn’t just close off a few streets; a number of homes near the river had been destroyed by the flooding. Tarboro hadn’t even been hit the hardest. Towns all along the Tar River suffered damages due to the flooding caused by the hurricane. Tarboro High School became a refuge for the residents of nearby Princeville and American Red Cross Shelters had been set up across the town. The hurricane had occurred almost two weeks prior, but the communities were still feeling the impacts. The Tar River Times reported the damages to be over $1 million dollars in order to repair the nearly 50 condemned homes and the destroyed roads along the river.


I finished my ice cream and looked out at the rain that now seemed to be only a drizzle. I could see flyers posted about fundraising for the families impacted by the hurricane. We hadn’t been nearly as affected back at Elon, 135 miles to the west. The few days of rain were an inconvenience at most.  We had nowhere near the damage that Tarboro was facing. After the coffee and ice cream, Lauren, Abbey, and I drove back to see the damage near the road closure. The National Guard didn’t seem too keen on us slowing down to survey the road, but we could still see places where the road had broken off and water still remained.


To continue on our journey, we had to drive on one section of road that was cracked in half across both lanes. We had passed this crack on the way into town, thinking it was almost chasm-like. Now, it didn’t seem like any more than a fracture in the road.

Looking Glass Falls

By Christian Kowalski, 2016

A picturesque view of Looking Glass Falls.
A picturesque view of Looking Glass Falls.

Looking Glass Falls is one of the bigger waterfalls we drove by and visited during our trip. Located in Brevard, locally known as the “Land of Waterfalls,”, Looking Glass Falls definitely was situated in an area that attracted more tourists. Part of this stems from how accessible the route to the falls were. There were clearly made steps down to the falls which would make it safer for families to walk down for the better view. There were benches along the path as well, giving people time to rest or take photos of the experience. Even before reaching the base of the path, it was clear those who designed it took into consideration that it would be a popular destination.

When our group arrived at the falls, there were already tons of cars parked alongside the road, forcing us to park where it would be a few minute walk to the falls. Compared to other waterfalls in the area, Looking Glass Falls was definitely more tourist-y due to its quick accessibility and picturesque look. Everyone had their cameras out around the falls. People were hurdling over rocks to change the perspective while others stayed by the benches to stay away from the cold, breezy chill of the water.

Sam, Dani, Christian and I at Looking Glass Falls.
Sam, Dani, Christian and I at Looking Glass Falls.

The falls themselves were gorgeous. Even though the water levels weren’t particularly high, the size of the falls were far bigger than most in the area. They were also tucked away in a small valley alongside the road provided a full 360 view of the beautiful fall trees around us. Giant boulders were all around the falls, which were prime for climbing to get better views of the falls.

Our group walked down the path and proceeded to walk along the accessible parts of the falls. Many pictures were from nearly every possible point we could take them. The falls in Brevard were more visually impressive compared to Silver Run, but the sheer number of people removed the intimacy. There were crying children, arguing parents and just lots of noise when visiting Looking Glass Falls. They were incredibly beautiful and impressive, but it lacked that hidden gem quality that made Silver Run a lot more special.

After we walked around the falls, we took one more group photo up by the benches and continued on our trip.

Finding Warmth in the Crabtree General Store

By Molly Spero, 2016

Toys, candy, and more offered in the store.
Toys, candy, and more offered in the store.

Before we explored the Franklin Pumpkin Festival, we wanted to warm up with coffee. Crabtree General Store and Coffee Vault was just the place for that. It was an old-fashioned, yet modernized general store, reflecting the small-town feel of Franklin. Friendly cashiers welcomed us with a smile, and the coffee aroma filled the store. Crabtree General sold every type of coffee drink from cappuccinos to green tea chai lattes at their fully coffee bar. Their coffee beans were imported from Black Mountain. Tucked away there was a tiny Wifi lounge where we sipped our coffees and talked about our plan to conquer the festival.

Once we finished our drinks, we walked around, looking at all sorts of wonderful, random, and unique items that cluttered the store. There were barrels spilling over with old-fashioned candy like colored taffy, crystal rock candy, giant gummy bears, and both mini and supersized jawbreakers. Creams and lip balm from J.R. Watkins and Burt’s Bees lined a shelf, along with local jams and jellies. Hung up on the wall were “Home” shirts, the t-shirts with the state of NC printed on the front. There was a whole toy section with Melissa and Doug stuffed animals, puzzles, board games, wooden trains, and model cars. Another section displayed cute wine glasses with funny sayings like, “It’s wine o’ clock somewhere” and “I tend to wine a lot,” in addition to other home décor items.

Christian, Sam, and I stand on the patio of the Crabtree General Store.
Christian, Sam, and I stand on the patio of the Crabtree General Store.

As we were looking around, a woman with curly, short blond hair wearing a glittery pumpkin asked how we were doing and if we were enjoying the festival. Much to our surprise, she was Karen Crabtree, co-owner of the General Store with her husband and three grown sons. The Crabtree family opened the store in 2015, and although the store had been open for less than a year, it has made a name for itself as a community gathering spot. Mrs. Crabtree grew up in Franklin, and after moving away for college, was drawn back to the small town to reconnect with relatives, bringing her own family, too. She was glad to come back home because she “enjoys the sense of family that Franklin offers.” After telling her about our Highway 64 trip, we thanked her and went outside.

The wrap around patio of Crabtree General overlooked the town, providing a panoramic view of the festival. White rocking chairs added to its southern, homey charm. At a table selling General Store logo t-shirts and hoodies, we were offered samples of an assortment of apple, pumpkin and banana butters. We taste tested all three and couldn’t pick our favorite. The butters were only the first of many delicious festival foods we tried that day. We left the store warmed from the coffee and ready to explore Franklin’s annual Pumpkin Fest.

The Daily Grind & Wine in Murphy

By Molly Spero, 2016

Delicious black bean burger served at The Daily Grind & Wine.
Delicious black bean burger served at The Daily Grind & Wine.

The excitement was palpable as we pulled into a parking space in front of a coffee shop called The Daily Grind & Wine in downtown Murphy, NC. A four-plus hour car ride from Elon to Murphy had stiffened my legs—and “nature called.” The café was situated in the “Town of Murphy,” which was founded in 1835. Originally founded as Huntington after the first Postmaster Col. H.R.S. Hunter, Murphy gained its current name after Archibald D. Murphey, later dropping the “e” in Murphy. Since 1851, Murphy has been the county seat of Cherokee County. The Cherokee Indian Nation called Cherokee County and the surrounding area home prior to 1839, until they were removed to Oklahoma over the “Trail of Tears,” which follows a pathway out of town.

Located downtown in the historic building, The Daily Grind is nestled among several shops, including a neighboring bookstore and a basement music shop. Since May 2000, the coffee shop considers itself to be “the ‘Cheers’ for locals and visitors alike” and serves espresso, cappuccinos, and lattes. All day customers can choose off the breakfast and lunch menu that offers fresh baked goods, wraps, salads and grilled Panini sandwiches. Hanging chalkboards display the menu on the wall behind the cash register.

I opted for a black bean vegan burger with a whole slew of toppings—lettuce, tomato, mayo, Italian vinaigrette, provolone, and pickles—all on a skinny wheat bun and served with a choice of chips, grapes, or potato salad. Trying to be health conscious, I went with grapes. (This health craze didn’t last long; my diet became progressively saturated in fats, carbs, and sugars throughout the trip.)

The cashier gave me a table tracker, where the number card was displayed upright, inserted between two wine corks. This was a fitting nod to The Daily Grind’s other service: wine. With its Celtic themed wine and beer bar, the coffee shop doubles as the only retail wine shop in downtown Murphy. The bar specializes in regionally crafted brews and prides itself in being “a great place to meet old friends and make new ones.” In a small section beside the bar, a few tall tables were clustered together, inviting people to sit and enjoy their wine. Close by, wine racks lined the surrounding walls, serving as a little shop.

Molly flips through The Daily Grind & Wine scrapbook.
Molly flips through The Daily Grind & Wine scrapbook.

I sat down with my number at a two-seat table with Dani. Sam and Christian occupied the one next to us. The seating area was small and cozy, brightened by the natural light streaming in from the long wall of windows. While I waited on the food, I spotted a photo album resting on a seat. Curious, I opened it to reveal a scrapbook that documented the history of The Daily Grind through pictures and news articles: a flyer announcing its grand opening and promotional free concert, the first menu, pictures of the shop’s original layout, and many more pages.

Although the coffee shop had been around for less than two decades, the history within the scrapbook and the bustling vibe of the small eatery showed just how homey it felt, helping to create the friendly environment of Murphy. I looked around and saw locals and visitors alike enjoying the quaint, comfortable, and chill atmosphere.

My vegan burger arrived shortly in a basket lined with newspaper. The vegan burger, textured with black beans and a combination of breadcrumbs, onions, corn, and other seasonings, was moist and flavorful. The toasted wheat bun was crisp and warm, complementing the burger and all of its condiments.

After the long car ride, The Daily Grind & Wine provided an excellent pick-me-up stop. The atmosphere was cozy and relaxed, making it easy to talk with people, and the menu offered many tasty breakfast and lunch options perfect for a light meal. From my co-travelers, I heard enthusiastic approval of the coffee and appreciation of the local wine collection. If you are looking for a place in Murphy to sit back and relax while eating delicious sandwiches and drinking rich coffee or regional, unique wines, I highly recommend you skip a chain or fast food place and come to The Daily Grind.

Janette Franich: Jewelry Artist

By Molly Spero, 2016

Armed with hot chocolate clutched between my cold hands, I was ready to explore Franklin’s Pumpkin Fest. The streets were crowded with rows upon rows of booths that offered handmade crafts from soaps to aprons. A few minutes into roaming the aisles, Sam, Dani, and I were attracted to the jewelry stand, Designs by Janette. Christian was not nearly as interested.

A variety of necklaces made from14k gold, sterling silver, brass, and copper hung from nails in a wooden box, evoking a simple, rustic vibe. The pieces were simple, yet caught the eye with their intricate detailing. Small pendants adorned each paper-thin chain: a bird woven into its nest, a tree entangled by its branches, and a simple bar inscribed with a word, BADASS (and yes, it fittingly was in all caps). The juxtaposition between the powerful, confident statement and the delicate design made the piece unique.

Molly shows off her BADASS necklace.
Molly shows off her BADASS necklace.

When I conversationally mentioned this juxtaposition to the lady overseeing the stand, I discovered that she not only was the Janette of Designs by Janette, but also appreciated that I had picked up on the contrast in her piece. “I draw inspiration from the juxtaposition of the natural and man-made world with the combination of organic and geometric lines,” she said. Among her most popular pieces include her Tree of Life design and Bird’s Nest necklaces and earrings. Framed by a rectangular border, the Tree of Life emerges from the intertwining wires that twist into sprawling branches. To add texture to the Bird’s Nest pieces, the eggs are made of freshwater pearls or aquamarine.

Growing up in Michigan, Janette loved art and the creativity involved. Today as a North Carolina artisan specializing in metal work, she employs wire-wrapping and metal-smithing techniques to create “elegant, lightweight, and feminine jewelry.” She participates in numerous art shows, festivals, and craft fairs throughout North Carolina. Last weekend she had set up her stand in Cashiers, NC for Art for a Cause. Before pursuing her career as a professional artist, Janette taught art class to elementary and middle schools in North Carolina for five years. She smiled at me, explaining, “While I enjoyed working with youth, a career as a professional artist was calling.”

After learning from numerous how-to books on jewelry making, she dedicated herself as a self-taught jewelry artist and started her company, Designs by Janette, in 2011. In addition to handcrafted jewelry, she creates oil and acrylic paintings, photographs, and prints. Her art is displayed in galleries across North Carolina, South Carolina, and Michigan. When I asked her about selling her art in multiple states, she replied, “My love of travel and exploring the outdoors serves as a constant inspiration and is reflected in my work.”

Janette displays her jewelry at the Franklin Pumpkin Festival.
Janette displays her jewelry at the Franklin Pumpkin Festival.

To create her beautiful one-of-a-kind designs, Janette starts at the beginning. “My creative process begins with the raw materials in my hand. My ideas go directly from my head to my hands with typically no sketch in between. I solder the wire, hammer the pieces and continue by adding gemstones or textures with the rolling mill. Each piece is completed by being filed and polished,” she described. Her designs center on reshaping recycled materials, metals and natural stones into wearable art. Many of her jewelry are inlaid with precious and semi-precious metals with natural and faceted gemstones. The malleable metal and wire undergoes hot- and cold-forging processes to be fashioned into her wire-wrapped creations.

After talking to this self-starting businesswoman about her labor of love, I couldn’t leave without a souvenir. I admired a pair of Tree of Life earrings and examined a Bird Nest necklace, but it wasn’t until my gaze turned toward the bar necklace stamped with “BADASS” that I truly smiled. That word doesn’t represent me at all – so naturally, I had to have it.

Janette swiped my debit card using her iPhone card reader, and started to put my necklace in a fancy box with her logo on it. “Wait!” I said, gesturing for it. “I want to wear it now, please.” She smiled and placed the delicate necklace in my palm. I thanked her and walked out of her stand to find my other Mountain group members, who were looking at handmade soaps next door. With the necklace fastened around my neck, I could feel the slight pressure of the bar every time I inhaled the crisp mountain air, making me grin as I was reminded of what I could be – or perhaps what I am: BADASS.

Nancy from Murphy

By Dani Halliday, 2016

Town of Murphy historic center.
Town of Murphy historic center.

Nancy, an elderly twenty-seven-year resident of Murphy, NC, works in the visitor’s center in downtown Murphy. As we had just arrived, maybe an hour prior to entering the center, she was the perfect person to talk to.

“I used to be a real estate agent, so I know all about the town and it is my job to make it seem as great as possible,” she said when we asked her about the town itself. Nancy went on to say that she loved the small-town, family feel of Murphy. “We don’t wave with our middle fingers here, and we only let nice people in.” Her blue eyes sparkled as she told us of a time when a family she was showing a house to asked if there was somebody who came around and swept all the leaves off of the streets. She did not like this family too much and apparently, they chose not to move there.

She handed us some maps of the River Walk we were about to embark on and gave us directions to the Murphy to Manteo sign. “It’s just down Highway 64. You turn right at the McDonalds and keep going.”

As we shook hands to leave, Nancy had to know how Christian ended up traveling with such lovely young ladies. We explained our research task of interviewing and exploring the towns of Highway 64, and that Christian was the only boy in the class. We waved goodbye and as we opened the door to leave for the Murphy to Manteo sign, Nancy turned to her colleague and exclaimed, “How cute!” I have to agree with Nancy; we are adorable.

Searching for the Elusive White Squirrel

By Dani Halliday, 2016


White squirrel in mural descends upon Dani.
White squirrel in mural descends upon Dani.

There was a heavy chill in the air that clung to our bones. A thin fog hovered above the ground of the Brevard College campus, making the empty campus feel abandoned and creepy. We were here for a reason and would not leave without seeing the elusive white squirrel of Brevard.

Images of white squirrels were everywhere in the tiny mountain town of Brevard, NC. There was a white squirrel store, white squirrel statues in the hotels, white squirrel forms on the traffic lights, and even a giant mural of a white squirrel diving into a pile of nuts painted on the side of a restaurant.

The white squirrels weren’t residents of the town initially, but according to the Transylvania Times (the local newspaper of Brevard and other towns in Transylvania county), a carnival truck overturned in 1949, releasing two white squirrels with gray streaks down their backs into the wild of the Great Smoky Mountains. The squirrels were found by Mr. Black, who found them eating in his pecan grove. Black passed these squirrels to H. H. Mull, who subsequently passed them along to his niece, Barbara, to attempt to breed them, which failed. Eventually, one of the squirrels escaped and then Barbara released the other. Breeding apparently was easier in the wild of the mountains because now there are significantly more white squirrels than the original two. In 1986, the white squirrels became a protected species in Brevard with a vote by the Brevard City Council stating that is “shall be unlawful for any person to hunt, kill, trap, or otherwise take any protected squirrels within the city.” This law does not extend to the non-white squirrels of the area, though. While there are other white squirrel sightings in other states, such as Kentucky and Illinois, only Brevard holds a White Squirrel Festival every May.


Main Campus of Brevard College.

The receptionist at the Holiday Inn we had stayed in the night before recommended the college campus as the place where we would most likely find these rare creatures. We set out into the brisk 35-degree air at 9:00 am to begin our search.

We scoured the campus, which housed only 729 students, seeing beautiful brick buildings, massive trees, and copious amounts of brown squirrels, yet no people or white squirrels. Brevard College is a private, four-year institution, home to the Tornadoes. It stands on the outskirts of downtown Brevard, a prime location, and is about 120-acres. These are 120 acres that white squirrels can roam free on without any fear for their safety.


White squirrel poses for his picture.
White squirrel poses for his picture.

We passed underneath a clock tower which was built with bricks engraved with names from back in the 1900s. The brick buildings, white pillars, and trees scattered around campus reminded me of Elon on a much more rural scale. We wandered aimlessly around campus scanning the ground and the trees for a flash of white. We knew they were out there. We would find one.

Finally we saw it. It hopped around the ground, standing out a stark white streaked with gray against the fallen yellow and brown leaves and the dark green grass. It looked just like any other squirrel: same tail, same twitching nose, same large dark eyes—except for the white fur of course. We had to wonder as we followed the creature, much too close for its liking, whether the white squirrels were treated differently by their brown squirrel brethren. Were they allowed near the other squirrels? Did the white squirrels act as an exclusive group and not let the brown squirrels into their white squirrel club? These were questions only the white squirrels could answer for us, yet our friend had darted up a tree, out of sight.